The New Mexico House of Representatives has approved legislation that would repeal the death penalty and replace it with a sentence of life without parole. Supporters of the measure say that it will save taxpayers an estimated $3 million a year, money they contend would be better spent on helping victims’ families. They also note that capital punishment could result in an innocent person being executed, does not deter murder, and is unfairly administered in the state. “There are no rich people on death row,” noted Rep. Gail Chasey (pictured), who sponsored the legislation.

Though prosecutors have sought the death penalty 207 times since 1979, the death penalty was imposed only 28 times. Nineteen of those sentences were overturned, five were commuted by former Governor Toney Anaya, one prisoner died on death row, one prisoner was executed, and two remain on death row.

The bill, which passed the House by a vote of 41-28, now goes to the Senate for consideration.

(Associated Press, February 12, 2007). See Recent Legislative Activity and Life Without Parole.